Dec 132010

I liked parts of And Soon the Darkness. Even though the first act is a bit on the plodding side, I do understand the need to establish the two friends and get a little suspense built up and on the first part, the movie does succeed.



And Soon the Darkness

Genre(s): Suspense/Thriller
Anchor Bay | R – 91 min. – $34.98 | December 28, 2010

Date Published: 12/10/2010 | Author: The Movieman

Directed by: Marcos Efron
Writer(s): Brian Clemons and Terry Nation (1970 Original); Jennifer Derwingson and Marcos Efron (screenplay)
Cast: Amber Heard, Odette Yustman, Karl Urban

Features: Commentary, Featurette, Deleted Scenes
Digital Copy: No
Formats Included: Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 1

Audio: English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Codecs: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A

Anchor Bay provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

THE MOVIE — 3.25/5

In Marcos Efron’s feature-length directorial debut, And Soon the Darkness is the remake of a 1970 British thriller that was set in Paris. Having not seen the original, I can’t imagine this version is a whole lot different plot-wise other than instead of the central setting being in France, this time we’re in the beauty and dangers of Argentina.

The story is about best friends Stephanie (AMBER HEARD) and Ellie (ODETTE YUSTMAN) who are in Argentina on a group bicycle trip but decide to explore the remote countryside on their own hoping to take in the local flavor before their trip ended; they must make the bus to catch up with the rest at 8am or else have to wait another day and buy plane tickets home. They stop by a small town where they take in a few drinks at the bar – where upon a mysterious ex-pat named Michael (KARL URBAN; STAR TREK) catches Stephanie’s eye – and Ellie gets hot and heavy with one of the locals, until her date turns violent outside of her and Stephanie’s motel room. Lucky for them Michael is staying in the next room and breaks it up before things turned ugly.

Thanks to the fight outside the alarm clock conveniently gets unplugged and both girls are pretty hung over, especially Ellie. So with no alarm they of course wake up too late and miss the bus. Now they have an entire day to spend in this strange town where locals aren’t exactly the friendliest and the girls don’t speak the native language too well. The two though take the advice of the motel’s keeper to explore some beautiful areas of the region, one being next to a waterfall where they decide to do some sun bathing (skin time!). During the time in the sun, Stephanie and Ellie get into an argument and Stephanie leaves to cool off. It would be the last time Stephanie would see her friend as Ellie is kidnapped, dragged into the woods.

In a panic, she tries to get the local police to do something but feels he is not taking the disappearance seriously and begins to rely on Michael for help. We later discover Michael is in the area for his own purposes as well and although they try to keep it mysterious and a minor red herring, it’s kind of obvious why (clue: the movie opens up three months prior in a dungy room being tortured by her kidnapper). The two hunts down clues to Ellie’s whereabouts but the locals are of no help and when Stephanie even tries to question them, they hide away indoors. Michael then reveals the worst about Ellie’s fate: if they cannot find her by dark, Ellie is gone forever being transported from Argentina into Paraguay and then beyond in the lucrative sex trade industry.

Surprisingly enough, even though And Soon the Darkness only has a 91-minute running time, the first 30-minutes or so are spent building seemingly to nothing. Yes, director Efron (who also served as co-writer) establishes that something’s not quite right in the small Argentinean town but most of the time is spend of the two girls examining various places but also establishing they are indeed best friends which is fine especially since 60% of the film will be spent trying to find her friend, but otherwise that time it seemed the plot just dredged along and I’m there waiting for the thriller aspects (not to mention suspense) to eventually kick in. Now when both do kick in, the second and third acts are actually well done despite a few “yeah… whatever” moments (it includes a twist I saw coming two miles away). Having read a review or two of the 1970 original, this seemed to be an issue with that version as well so it doesn’t seem the 2010 edition goes off course too much.

Yet at the same time the film still works for the most part. You’ve got a cast that does the best with a limited script as Amber Heard (who also co-produced) does a good job in the lead role, Odette Yustman – somewhat reminding me of Megan Fox – in a thankless part as the slutty friend turned damsel-in-distress and Karl Urban in the small cameo-like role who probably gives the best performance because you never know where his character’s loyalties really lie.

And Soon the Darkness had potential and I understand what the writers were trying to do in setting up the mood and suspense during the first 30-minutes but by the time the thrills get going I was more frustrated than anything. Having said that, I do think the second and third acts, in spite of a couple of those “whatever” scenes, I thought it was a well enough done flick that deserves to at least be rented. The performances from the three leads are all good despite the challenges and the location shooting in Argentina does look great and only adds to the story.



Audio Commentary features Co-Writer/Director Marcos Efron, Editor Todd E. Miller and Director of Photography Gabriel Beristain. All the participants are in the room together so you get a good balance of on-set shooting, script changes and thoughts being bounced off one another. It may not be the liveliest commentary I’ve heard, but for those interested in filmmaking, it delivers.

Director’s Video Diary (11:12; HD) serves as the disc’s only featurette. This is some raw footage, mixed in with scenes from the movie, where Elfron narrates explaining some of the locations and such. It’s cool to see some of the behind-the-scenes footage but it’s nothing special.

Deleted Scenes (6:42; SD) – Here are four extended/deleted footage removed from the film probably to speed up an already slow first act plus other scenes that didn’t offer anything new or interesting to the plot.

Last we get the trailer (1:51; HD) plus some for Anchor Bay films Let Me In (from director Matt Reeves) and The Disappearance of Alice Creed.


VIDEO – 4.25/5

Anchor Bay brings And Soon the Darkness to Blu-ray with a nice-looking, though not eye-popping, 2.40 aspect ratio and 1080p high-definition. I’ve been mostly impressed with some of Anchor Bay’s offerings in the past but this one doesn’t exactly pop off the screen and doesn’t have the detail level I comes to expect from a newer release. That being said, it could very be due to the low budget, the types of cameras the director used and/or the locations themselves (it was filmed in Argentina). Also, based upon cinematographer Gabriel Beristain’s resume, he doesn’t seem to do vibrant (see Street Kings, The Ring Two and The Invisible to name a few). There is still decent if not good amount of detail on the close-ups, the colors comes across evenly on the small screen and black levels throughout are really good especially during the opening scene as well as during the final act.

AUDIO – 4.0/5

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track isn’t anything special either but it gets the job done. As I said in the movie review portion, the first 30-minutes is mainly sight-seeing and dialogue mixed in with a low-key score by tomandandy (The Hills Have Eyes, The Strangers). It’s not until mainly the third act where the audio kicks into higher gear with some chases, gunfire and everything a decent thriller needs. During those portions the front and rear speakers get some use but it’s nothing profound, just a good track that doesn’t stand apart from the rest.


OVERALL – 3.0/5

Overall, I liked parts of And Soon the Darkness. Even though the first act is a bit on the plodding side, I do understand the reasoning behind it to both establish the two friends and get a little suspense built up and on the first part, the movie does succeed. The remaining 60-minutes however are good even if some of the plot elements were on the eye-rolling side and the big twist could have been seen a couple miles away. The Blu-ray itself has good, if not unremarkable, video and audio while the features are decent but forgettable.




Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

 12/13/2010  Blu-ray Reviews Tagged with: , ,

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